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The Most Dangerous Deficiency You Might Not Know You Have

Health News
By VRP Staff

Many nutrients, such as calcium, are well recognized for the important role they play in health. But there’s one vitamin that is especially important yet often ignored in the quest for health, putting people at risk for a dangerous deficiency. Worse, this vitamin isn’t so easy to come by in our everyday diets—a scarcity that might be responsible for some of our country’s most serious health concerns.

What is this important vitamin? It’s vitamin K, but not just any form of vitamin K. One form of this vitamin is especially crucial to both bone and heart health.

There are two types of K: phylloquinone (known as vitamin K1) and menaquinone (known as vitamin K2). Leafy green vegetables are rich in the first type, which plays a critical role in your body’s clotting process. Vitamin K2, however, isn’t so easy to come by in the diet, putting many people at risk for deficiency.

K2 is essential to calcium metabolism—and without adequate levels, your body will suffer in two very different ways. On the one hand, menaquinone deficiency will cause your bones to lose vital calcium, leaving them weak and vulnerable to fractures.(1-2) But this vitamin doesn’t just keep calcium in your bones—it also keeps it out of your arteries.

Without adequate levels of K2, the chemical conversion of matrix GLA protein—an important calcification inhibitor—is blocked. As a result, calcium will build up in your arteries, causing them to harden and increasing plaque formation. (3-4)  

Fortunately, population studies show that boosting levels of K2 can stop this deadly development—both lowering heart disease death rates and reducing arterial calcification among subjects with the highest intakes.(5-7) Research has shown similar benefits when it comes to bone health, with trials showing that K2 can effectively increase hip bone density in postmenopausal women.(8-10)
In an even more promising turn, researchers have tested analogs of K2 for effects on liver and prostate health.(11-15)

Unfortunately, the only abundant food source of K2 is the Japanese soybean dish called natto—as famous for its unpleasant smell and taste as it is for its profound health benefits (including lower rates of hip fractures and postmenopausal bone loss).(16-17) A much more convenient way to obtain K2 is to take it in supplement form. Ultra K2, available from VRP, provides nourishing amounts of this vitamin that’s so crucial to cardiovascular and bone health.

If you’re currently on medications such as warfarin, you’ll want to talk with your physician before taking any type of vitamin K.


1. Hirao M, Hashimoto J, Ando W, Ono T, Yoshikawa H. Response of serum carboxylated and undercarboxylated osteocalcin to alendronate monotherapy and combined therapy with vitamin K2 in postmenopausal women. J Bone Miner. Metab.2008;26(3):260-4.
2. Bügel S. Vitamin K and bone health in adult humans.Vitam Horm. 2008;78:393-416.
3. Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, et al. Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr. 2004 Nov;134(11):3100-5.
4. Schurgers LJ, Teunissen KJ, Knapen MH, et al. Novel conformation-specific antibodies against matrix gamma-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla) protein: undercarboxylated matrix Gla protein as marker for vascular calcification. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2005 Aug;25(8):1629-33.
5. Beulens JW, Bots ML, Atsma F, et al. High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis. 2008 Jul 19.
6. Wallin R, Schurgers L, Wajih N. Effects of the blood coagulation vitamin K as an inhibitor of arterial calcification. Thromb Res. 2008;122(3):411-7.
7. Saito E, Wachi H, Sato F, Sugitani H, Seyama Y. Treatment with vitamin k(2) combined with bisphosphonates synergistically inhibits calcification in cultured smooth muscle cells. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2007 Dec;14(6):317-24.
8. Ishida Y. Treatment of osteoporosis and evidence-based medicine. Vitamin k(2). Clin Calcium. 2008 Oct;18(10):1476-82.
9. Tanaka I, Oshima H. Vitamin K2 as a potential therapeutic agent for glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Clin Calcium. 2007 Nov;17(11):1738-44.
10. Hara K, Akiyama Y. Vitamin K and bone quality. Clin Calcium. 2007 Nov;17(11):1678-84.
11. Mizuta T, Ozaki I. Hepatocellular carcinoma and vitamin K. Vitam Horm. 2008;78:435-42.
12. Tamori A, Habu D, Shiomi S, Kubo S, Nishiguchi S. Potential role of vitamin K(2) as a chemopreventive agent against hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatol Res. 2007 Sep;37 Suppl 2:S303-7.
13. Habu D, Shiomi S, Tamori A, et al. Role of vitamin K2 in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in women with viral cirrhosis of the liver. JAMA. 2004 Jul 21;292(3):358-61.
14. Mizuta T, Ozaki I, Eguchi Y, et al. The effect of menatetrenone, a vitamin K2 analog, on disease recurrence and survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma after curative treatment: a pilot study. Cancer. 2006 Feb 5;106(4):867-72.
15. Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Linseisen. Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg). Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):985-92.
16. Kaneki M, Hodges SJ, Hosoi T, et al. Japanese fermented soybean food as the major determinant of the large geographic difference in circulating levels of vitamin K2: possible implications for hip-fracture risk. Nutrition. 2001 Apr;17(4):315-21.
17. Ikeda Y, Iki M, Morita A, et al. Intake of fermented soybeans, natto, is associated with reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women: Japanese Population-Based Osteoporosis (JPOS) Study. J Nutr. 2006 May;136(5):1323-8.



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